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Bill Bennett

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Coming soon: Cheaper, greener, longer-lasting batteries

Lithium-sulfur batteries store considerably more energy than their lithium-ion cousins — in theory as much as six times the energy for a given weight. What’s more, they can be made from cheap materials that are readily available around the world.

Source: Batteries made with sulfur could be cheaper, greener and hold more energy – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Better batteries can’t arrive soon enough. We need them to be cheaper to make, store more energy and less of a drain on dwindling resources.

They can improve mobile device performance and usefulness. They can power electric vehicles for longer. It would be great to drive from Auckland to Wellington on a single charge without worrying.

Better batteries can improve power grids and boost home storage, making solar power more viable.

Mahdokht Shaibani and her team at Monash University may have made the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for. The story says there may be a commercial product in two to four years. It may be too soon to get excited, but it is a development worth watching.

Battery life improving

Battery life has already improved hugely in recent years. This week Dell demonstrated an updated Latitude 9750 2-in-1 computer that uses AI-based technology to eke-out battery life.

Computer brands talk about edging close to 24-hour battery life. That may be true if you don’t push laptops to the limit. In real world condition you’re more likely to see 14 hours or so.

The new Apple iPhone 11 runs for four hours longer than the previous year’s iPhone XS. That’s a 20 percent increase year-on-year. This has a knock-on effect elsewhere in the phone business.

Worrying about finding outlets is less of an issue than it was. And yet it would be great if a phone could go the best part of a week between battery top-ups. That goes for everything else.

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